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2 dos and 5 don’ts for relaxed reading in your target language

Reading for fun is a powerful way to improve your skills in your target language.

At first, reading a whole book feels difficult, daunting and sloooooow.

But making the effort to keep going pays off.

When you regularly read a book for pleasure for 20-30 minutes, your brain notices bits and pieces about the language – such as useful words, common phrases, correct verb endings and much more.

These gains from subconscious learning happen as long as you’re relaxed when reading – you have to be enjoying the book.

To make reading easier, the first do is start with a book you’re familiar with, where you know the gist of the story. Perhaps:

  • the translation of a book you’ve already read in another language

  • the book of a film or TV show you’ve already seen

  • simplified books for learners in your favourite genre: romance, thriller, biography, etc.

And the second do for comfortable reading is to pick a book which has no more than about 5 words per page that you don’t know.

This makes getting to grips with the story not too hard, not too easy.

Now you’ve chosen your book, here are 5 don’ts for relaxed reading to help you keep going:

  1. Don’t look up words all the time ­– guess meanings from the situation.

  2. Don’t slow right down – re-read the paragraph once or twice at your normal pace and it’ll make more sense.

  3. Don’t need to understand everything – accept some fuzziness in the plot.

  4. Don’t leave long gaps between reading sessions – read several times a week.

  5. Don’t like the book – ditch it and find one you do like.

These 5 don’ts helped my mother overcome her reluctance to read in English and helped me relax into reading in German and French.

Reading for pleasure – a painless yet powerful way to enrich your target language.

Need a hand to set up and stick to your DIY language project? I can help.

© Christina Wielgolawski